According to Stuart, The Floating Signifier is a title that describes the essence of bigotry. Racial disparities fluctuate from time to time, hence the word “floating” (Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The title encourages readers to learn about bigotry and to be able to analyze ideas in different ways. Understanding bigotry necessitates diligent review and dedication to investigating the numerous phenomena that it exhibits. Stuart’s emphasized scientific structure is not academically inclined. He uses the title to expound on the various facets of quenching in order to better understand the matter. He notices that people struggle with the fact that they are conscious. For instance, people can only get motivated to fight racism and if they comprehend how it works. Stuart argues that racism is a philosophy that dictates that there is the natural connection between how people look regarding their hair, color and the way they think and act. He notes that “with how intelligent they are with whether they are good athletes or not, good dancers or not, good workers, civilized or not. Blacks, for example, are not as intelligent as the whites” (Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The argument resonates around the term floating signifier. In this case, he sheds lights on the numerous failed attempts to scientifically prove that indeed the statement is true. As a matter of fact after that, people need to pay attention to stories and culture about physical racial disparities. The topic of racism requires keen analysis of the discourses attached to it. The differences are signified by the way the society observed racism earlier. Physical aspects were historically explained using metaphors, antidotes, and jokes which had a different perspective compared to what the current society holds. However, over the years every physical aspect has been given a different meaning that is linked to racism. Thus, justifying the title since the subject seems to shift and slide always; it is never static (Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013).
Stuart notes, “I only want to remind you that the model being proposed here is closer to that of how a language works than of how our biology is or out physiologies work. That race is more like a language than it is the way in which we are biologically constituted”(Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The comment builds on the term floating signifier, and it sheds more light on the system and concepts used in classifying culture and the essence of the practices. People are different, and some of them possess strange looks based on the skin tone. The race is dominant and rather ever-shifting over generations. The meaning of each genetic aspect changes over time as new ideas and concept overwhelms people. People new philosophies to ensure that the subject remains significance to the society just like language it is relational and not essential. Therefore, racism cannot be fixed but continues to subject to continuous redefinition and appropriation processes. Stuart uses the analogy that people adopt new ideas and drop the old meaning of language. He describes the process to be endlessly and continuously signified. Different culture, therefore, makes various observations, in the different time, in different phases of historical formation. There is always something left untied to language; an aspect that can be analyzed and various perspectives drawn from it. Both race and language have a margin that cannot be fixed. That means there is ever something left to say about them.
Mary Douglas notes that classification is vital in the society. Every culture has its way of creating a balance among classes. Therefore, people can relate to their counterparts as they compare themselves where they are. The classes result into disparity among the inferiors and superiors. It introduces ranks to the society. She calls the natural selection and classification as ‘matter out of place’ (Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The society has a way of differentiating races. The whites and blacks always have something that distinguishes them regarding their abilities and capacities. The differences in such aspects result into unnecessary tensions depicted in racism. She relates the term to the feeling of belongingness. In this case, it is absurd for a black to become white because that is not where they ought to belong. Racism ensues where there are order restoration and maintenance. Those who don’t fall into a class will always feel the pressure of misplacement. To be matter out of place signifies the fixed boundaries that human beings cannot surpass in their quench to civilize themselves.
The race is a unique philosophy that operates in its mechanism. Based on the videos, we can identify that race is like a movement. It uses various methods to fit different society, and it is subject to time. Our perceptions changes and as time goes by we tend to embrace new ways of thinking and understanding the subject. Race works on various aspects such as color, ethnicity, sex, mental capacities and abilities, talents and power. It works through contemporary ideologies and philosophies to influence our perception. It doesn’t work as a single entity (color). It is modified and embedded in other aspects to make relevance and to justify its meaning to people.
The story is an analysis and summary of other stories regarding racism (Chang, 2009). It subjects other articles and scholars to psychoanalysis. The author revolves around the protest that white scholars dominate civil rights avenues leaving no space for minorities. The original pointer is the white scholars but to ensure that the story creates enough attention as one critic notes, “it enlightens on the grave charge of invidious racism on the part of respected legal scholars” the story had to focus on the minorities (Chang, 2009). The agenda isn’t profound because the author is establishing a foundation for a legal protest on civil rights. Using the same analogy, I would say that to understand the impact of Republicans policies people ought to analyze the minorities. This doesn’t mean the majority who belong to the white class should not be analyzed. An understanding of the non-whites defines a lot of the policies and the impact of ideologies to the whole society.
Stories are important to humanity. They are what connect people with their past and also provide a glimpse of the future. Through stories, people can feel what others can feel (Chang, 2009). It lessens the burden of going through the same process of pain and heartache. Stories enlighten us more and evoke people to view themselves regarding their position and ideologies in the societies. To the out-groups stories are like cautions as they explain what happens when various human tenets are not fulfilled. Human learns from their ancestors and past events. The probe into activities and assess different decisions that made some years ago that have an impact on them. In this case, the subject of racism has been carried for many seasons. The predecessors had their perspectives on differences regarding their colors, races, and ethnic groups. The ideologies then transformed over the periods and through civilization different perception aroused. The contemporary society has a different perspective of racism compared to the past. For instance, from the article, it is evident that ancestors in the past used their natural differences to create groups and societies. Some cultures were superior to others. The excellent organization was guaranteed favors from the entire community. They had the upper hand in matters that of society and policies. The classes represented other categories on various issues, and in most cases, the minorities were underpinned. However, the current culture has embraced a different perception that afflicts emotions and psychology. It is more related to the mind and soul than the physical being. People are subjected to psychological torture for things that they never planned or wanted to have. The society often finds opportunities to shift blame to them and to stress them in various ways. Moreover, Chang 2009 observes that stories are vital for making people evade the tedious nature of life. Through stories, people relate other contemporary issues and thus realize the importance of life. It enlightens and broadens human beings understanding and knowledge of racism. In the article, ‘The floating signifier,’ states that “what racism, as a philosophy contends is that there is a natural connection between the way people look, the differences of color, hair and bone and what they think and do. With how intelligent they are, with whether they are good athletes or not, good dancers or not, good workers, civilized or not. Racist believes that these characteristics are not as a result of our environment but our biological genes.” (Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The statement justifies how stories lay a foundation for comprehension of various analogies and ideologies of racism. They evoke a certain curiosity that leads men to identify what differentiates them from other people. Through stories, the perception of racism has transformed a great deal over the periods. In the article, the speaker notes that “but to the stories, the cultures spins for us about what the physically differences we are born with mean. This involves examining the discourses that surround race. That is, analyzing the metaphors, the antidotes, the stories, the jokes that are told by culture about what physical racial differences mean”(Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The statement justifies how stories are relevant on the subject of racism. They are powerful tools of transformation since people get various views on racism.
On the other hand, the in-groups are often catalyzed to feel shame, guilt, and fear by learning about others. Stories provoke people to see their deeds and mistakes. It also makes the society to learn about the wrongs that other people did. Through them, the society strengthens its tenets and moral codes. People will justify the need of observing the laws and moral codes because from experience of other people and societies they learn the outcomes. The fear and shame are attributed to the fact that people see themselves in others. They can always picture themselves in their shoes and thus understand how racism can yield animosity among human beings. People get to know that they have misplaced ideas and notions about others. In the article, Mary echoes the words of the authors in an illustration which states, “Every culture has a kind of order of classification built into it, and this seems to stabilize the culture. You know exactly where you are; you know who the inferiors are and who are the superiors are and how each has a rank. What t disturbs is matter out of place which means none worries about the dirt in the garden since it belongs in the backyard but the moment it is in the bedroom you cleanse it, you sweep it out, you restore order, you police the boundaries, you know the hard and fixed boundaries between what belongs and what doesn’t” (Hay, Hall & Grossberg, 2013). The statement enlightens on the outcome of stories and learning from other people experiences. Stories transform people from being uncivilized to being civilized. The stories can also distract people from the tensions that are facilitated by racism.
Ideologies affect the rationale of a human being. It is the relationship between a domain that expresses consciousness and another one that is considered unconscious (social and economic aspects) (Chang, 2009). The values that we observe have a significant effect on our understanding. Moreover, the rationality of any human being emanates from their ideologies. Each has a behavior or rather a character which when it is enhanced with ideas it makes an aggregate social behavior. The societal behavior is defined by a person who through their understanding and beliefs can transform the large population to believe in the same. Ideologies are radicle and rather easy to be adopted once a favorable platform has been set. The society would lack any classes or categories had it not been for the various ideologies carried by individuals. In response to a question, Rodrigo notes that “the author of the Occupied America: A History of Chicanos is a revisionist historian who is influencing a generation of ethnic studies students and is thus the most prominent Latino historian in the world” (Chang, 2009). In another quote, he observes that, “both King and Chavez looked to the writing of Mahatma Gandhi and Henry Thoreau for theories of civil disobedience and lawful protest and the Black Panther during their time of fame quoted a small library’s worth of revolutionary figures including Frantz Fanon, Karl Max, and Zedong” (Chang, 2009). The responses support the fact that a single ideology can transform a whole generation. In this context, the theories that were developed by people based on their beliefs changed an entire generation. Therefore just like the political ideologies that were embraced by revolutionist at such a time, racism also takes the same course. Ideologies instill a hierarchy of terms such that people have good and bad, real and false. Therefore, based on the beliefs people can discredit or construct pieces of information (Chang, 2009). In both cases, information is relevant. A society that is limited to information is always stunted in matters of development and social aspects. Information civilizes the society and makes people understand themselves and thus knowing each other. It through information however that the society is classed and hierarchal such that some people benefit while others are ever suffering. The same analogy applies to racism whereby there are some societies in the north of Asia where racism happens in the form of classism. The people who dominate the economy and politics are families and thus in charge of the society. Other nations such as Germany and USA, racism occurs by color and ethnicity. Non-white citizens are considered inferior to their counterparts and so on. Interestingly, such countries practice racism due to their advancement and development. Most of these nations are developed, and thus information circulates to people regularly. However, special cases of information dwarfism occur in some continents. In such places, there is less racism and sometimes zero racism. In the article, Rodrigo argues that “and I am sure you have noticed how certain critical theorists use counter-stories to displace master narratives such as without-intent-no-discrimination or the idea that colorblindness could ever be a coherent civil rights strategy” (Chang, 2009). The author argues how theorists enhance information development and thus evoke racism. They present information to the people who enlighten them to understand various aspects of racism. The reader influences the context and text thus intelligibility is subject to our ideologies.
Chang, R. S. (2009). Richard Delgado and the politics of citation. Berkeley J. Afr.-Am. L. & Poly, 11, 28.
Hay, J., Hall, S., & Grossberg, L. (2013). Interview with Stuart Hall. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 10(1), 10-33.